Local angle on WW II
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent November 9, 2012 4:38PM
Eunice Slagle introduces the film “World War II Documentary of Porter County” during a private screening Oct. 7, 2012. | Provided photo
If you go
What: Free showing of “World War II Documentary of Porter County”
When: 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12
Where: Memorial Opera House, 104 E. Indiana Ave., Valparaiso
Updated: December 12, 2012 6:25AM
Those who made “World War II Documentary of Porter County” wanted to preserve the voices of World War II veterans while they could.
But before they began filming, two interviewees died. Another died shortly after the Oct. 7 private screening.
More than 20 people were interviewed, though, and at 5 p.m. Monday at the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso, residents can hear the experiences of men who fought overseas and women who worked and raised families alone on the homefront.
The men of that era often kept such experiences to themselves, said Eunice Slagle, who spearheaded the documentary after she donated her husband’s memorabilia to the Porter County Museum of History and found the World War II exhibit needed organizing.
“When the men came home from World War II, they didn’t talk about it; they just went back to work,” Slagle said.
Ilaine Church, who helped Slagle, said, “When you hear some of those stories — and some are really heartbreaking — it makes you realize what it was like.”
The movie focuses on veterans from middle Porter County — Wheeler, Valparaiso and Liberty Township — and includes women and officials from four factories that fueled production — McGill Manufacturing, Indiana General, Mica and a factory that dehydrated eggs for overseas shipment.
“We know we missed some stories, and we wish we could’ve had everyone, but it was just impossible,” Slagle said, adding the film could have lasted at least seven hours with the interviews they have.
Joanne Urschel, her niece, said some interviews lasted 20 to 30 minutes, and younger family members who attended said they hadn’t heard many of the stories.
Two pilots also met during filming and gained a friendship.
“They said, ‘I never had anyone to talk to,’ ” Urschel said.
The documentary took about three years from conception to filming, and production depended not only on Slagle and her helpers, but contributions from Urschel Laboratories, which donated its production studio and hospitality when the original filmmaker couldn’t do the project, and the Opera House, which is donating its space for the showing.
Monday’s viewing is free, and seats are available.
There also are DVD copies being made, said Kevin Pazour, executive director of the Porter County Museum of History.